Charles Kettering, famous inventor and founder of Delco, once said, “We should be all concerned about the future because we will spend the rest of our lives there.” The ability to have a vision of what you personally perceive as success is a key element in your business venture and your personal life. Where are you going and what will in look like when you get there? A meaningful vision not only provides direction, but it helps people find meaning in their work and a reason to excel.
The traditional business approach to visioning and business planning assumes that the owners want a business which is going to grow in size and revenue. They will eventual grow in the number of people required and may be spread out beyond their original geographically market. Our experience with small businesses, proves that there are other visions shared by many that don’t include growth but do include sustainability. They may not want to grow into a major enterprise, but do want to be profitable for many years into the future. No matter what the future direction of the business is determined, it still needs a vison and a plan. Consider the following examples:
Success in a Restaurant
A friend of mine loves to cook and decided to open a restaurant. Think of the wide variety of choices she needs to make in building a successful business. Will this be a breakfast and lunch restaurant? What type and style food will she serve? Where will it be located and why? What type of customers will it serve? What price range will be best? How important is service?
In answering these question, she begins to build a vision of her business. Let’s assume that the following vision develops. It will be a breakfast/lunch restaurant providing quick friendly service for those on their way to work or looking for lunch. My friend visions success as a sustainable business and completing the business day by 3:00 PM to enable family time each evening. With her, she is balancing her love of cooking with life balance.
Of course, there are several important plans that need to be developed and implemented to support this, but consider the strength of the vision. She has no need to expand into attracting a dinner crowd, or opening multiple locations. There is no need to be distracted from her plan because the vision is strong and personal. Everything else being equal, she is on her way to having a successful and sustainable business.
Success in a Lawn Care Service Company
We are located in a very beautiful beach community in Southeastern North Carolina. Most of the residents are retired or have a second home here on the beach. There is plenty of work for lawn care service but many of the providers are folks with a lawn mower in the back of their pick-up truck. Reliability and professional service are keys to success. The opportunities seem limitless.
Here the vision is to build a well-managed growing company. The local market potential is so large that the business will grow with just the adding of trucks, equipment, staff and systems. There is very little need to expand the geographic area covered. The keys to success are marketing, efficiency and service.
Here, as with the restaurant, there are many temptations to be diverted from the plan developed to achieve the vision. Why not expand to other related services such as tree trimming or patio building? Why not take the business into other communities in the area? Because that would distract from the primary vision for the business and dilute all the effort necessary to develop management and marketing programs needed to achieve success.
The two examples discussed above are how two different businesses define success. Should we decide that one is better than the other? No!! Both are correct because they reflect the needs and desires of their owners. Once those visions are determined, is there a need to build a business plan for each. Is the restaurant just a mom and pop operation that should run by the seat of the pants? Is the lawn service in an area of such high demand that anyone could be successful? In both cases the vison needs to be followed with achievable goals and plans. That is how a sustainable business is built.